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This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (NIAID/TNS)

The number of deaths linked to an outbreak of coronavirus at a nursing home in San Andreas grew to 11 on Tuesday after the Calaveras County Public Health Division reported three more residents had died. 

A man and two women, all over 65 and residents at Avalon Health Care in San Andreas, tested positive for the virus and were unable to recover, the division stated. No additional information was provided by the division due to medical privacy laws.

“Family and friends of the Calaveras residents who passed away from COVID-19 face a future without their loved one,” said Dr. Dean Kelaita, health officer for Calaveras County. “Our deepest sympathies go out to those currently grieving.”

The deaths brought the county’s total to 13 since tracking the virus began in March.

There were also seven new cases in the county reported on Tuesday, though it was unclear whether any were connected to the nursing home outbreak that had infected more than 50 residents and 21 staff members.

Avalon Health Care Group, the Utah-based corporation that owns the facility, has not posted an update since Saturday after a total of eight residents were confirmed to have died after testing positive.

The company owns and operates the 99-bed skilled nursing facility in San Andreas and another called Avalon Care Center in Sonora, where six residents and multiple staff members have tested positive in outbreaks since March that were contained without any deaths.

Of the seven new cases on Tuesday, three were individuals between 18 and 49 years old, one was 50 to 64, and three were over 65.

Calaveras County’s total number of cases since the pandemic began was 305 on Tuesday, with 13 active, including one person who was in the hospital, and 279 recovered. The county’s risk level on the state’s new ranking system remained at “substantial.”

“This means that some indoor business operations are allowed to proceed with specific modifications,” Kelaita said of the county’s ranking. “People can help Calaveras lower its risk by taking necessary steps to prevent being exposed to the virus.”

Tuolumne County had no new cases reported on Tuesday, according to its public health department.

The county has recorded 216 total cases since counting began, including six that remained active and one person who was hospitalized on Tuesday, three deaths, and 193 recovered.

The county’s ranking in the state’s new system is considered “moderate,” which is one below “substantial” and allows for more types of businesses to operate indoors.

One of the ways the state determines a county’s ranking is through its average 7-day case rate, which was at 2.7 for Tuolumne County as of Tuesday. That was up from 1.8 when the state first unveiled the new system, but still “well within” the parameters for the current risk level.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 768-5175.

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